Subscription-free satellite service Freesat has confirmed that the ITV Player catch-up service will join the platform in the first half of 2010. It will join the BBC iPlayer, a beta version of which will be made available from December 7, 2009.
During the initial beta phase the service will be made available to selected partners and run from the Humax HD receivers. Humax has previously demonstrated a version of the technology at tradeshows including IBC 09. In a statement, Freesat said it hoped the iPlayer would be made widely available before Christmas.
Although no new reception equipment will be required – the service will be enabled by a simple software download – users will need to connect a broadband feed through an Ethernet cable or homeplug. New viewers can expect the facility to be connected during the installation process. Initially, access to the iPlayer will be through the Red Button. Freesat is recommending broadband speeds of between 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps.
Freesat managing director Emma Scott said the launch of the iPlayer on Freesat would be transformational. “All the HD receivers that have been bought and will be sold in the run up to Christmas will deliver BBC iPlayer so there’ll no need to buy any new receivers. We’d like to thank the BBC for all their hard work bringing the service onto our platform.”
In the run up to Christmas around 450 hours of programmes will be made available each week including bankers Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear, EastEnders, Life, Gavin and Stacey, and the new animated version of The Gruffalo.
The addition of the BBC iPlayer and later the ITV Player will be a significant differentiator between Freesat and Sky. Although the pay-TV platform has its Push VOD service Sky Player available to around seven million households – far in excess of Freesat’s 600,000 declared homes – Sky subscribers will have to wait until into 2010 before gaining a Pull VOD service.
ITV Player is already available on Virgin Media and BT Vision in addition to the ITV website.